Recently, a fantastic makeup artist by the handle of Makeupd0ll posted a truly breathtaking video that laid out one of her contouring looks. The effects of her contouring are dramatic indicators of her incredible skill, and many people who also wear makeup felt similarly.
Naturally, however, people had other opinions on Makeupd0ll, her videos, and her makeup technique, accusing her of low self-esteem and trying to deceive men, among other things. These are lines of thinking that sprout up in the comments of any tutorial showing the process and results of contouring, including some of my own.
To be frank, sentiments like these are as annoying as they are repetitive. I’d like to address the two most common that I see around, beginning with this:
Reaction 1. “Women who wear makeup don’t love themselves! Not like me, who would never ever wear makeup and Loves Herself™!”
Say you’re a woman who doesn’t wear makeup, for whatever reason, and stumbles across a makeup tutorial video. Let’s continue this imaginative journey to think that you, upon seeing the aforementioned video, clutch your pearls in affronted bother and do rightly declare that you would never go so far as to put “that much” makeup on your face, because you absolutely, truly and irrevocably Love Yourself. Let’s keep in mind that “that much” makeup is usually any makeup at all above transparent lip balm and maybe some mascara, at most.
That’s completely OK!
Let me sit you down for a tale, Imaginary Woman that we all collectively imagined just now: I used to be you.
During the point of my life that I hated myself most, I made the well-reasoned and somewhat contextually ironic decision to not wear makeup until I liked my face the way it was without it. This was in part informed by the fact that I couldn’t find foundation in my shade to save my life. But even so, I had an understanding with myself that wearing makeup would likely only deepen the lack of self-esteem with which I was already steadily grappling. As a result, I left it alone.
When I finally did learn to love myself, that decision led to the unintended consequence of me judging women who chose to wear makeup. I was under the impression that if they wore it, they were clearly trying to funnel themselves into the mold of beauty standards, and must obviously hate themselves as a result. I railed against the concept of cosmetics for the better part of a decade until I got a tiny kitten that tore up my hands, started writing for a truly fabulous beauty site, spent enough money at Sephora that they periodically gifted me bags of free cosmetics as a thank you, and learned that there was a lot more to this feminine art of face-decoration than hiding from oneself.
The way a person decides to love themselves and their body can take many different forms. Some decide that the best way to show themselves love is to never wear makeup, and to be greeted by the glory of their spectacular face every morning, midday and night, seeing their splendid visage in bathroom mirrors or during a #NaturalBeauty selfie. This is all perfectly OK.
Others, however, love the challenges and art present in the contouring arts of makeup. They love decorating their faces with colors and shades and glittering hues that can change the mood, or even shape, of their face. For many, makeup is an art form that they play with, not unlike playing dress up: it’s a way to experiment with your features as you see fit, by your own rules.
While there are absolutely many women who feel poorly about themselves and use makeup as a way to ameliorate that, it’s rude to make that unfounded assumption about all women who wear it. It’s good to remember the uniqueness of our own individual modes of expression before doling out judgment for others who live life differently. Take a deep breath, and remember: what another woman puts on her face has no functional effect on your life.
Reaction 2. “Women who wear makeup are lying to men! Lying, I tell you! I feel so deceived. :(”
Let’s have another bout game of make(up)-believe: imagine you’re a man who’d love to date a woman who looks like Rihanna in her videos, or Kate Moss on the cover of a magazine. You, in fact, have an unconscious assumption that some women just naturally look like that, while others--the type you’re not interested in, of course --are comparatively frumpy messes who could never hope to be so hot.
Let’s say that you, with this assumption, watch a video wherein one of these women you think are comparatively frumpy messes puts on makeup and transforms into the very ideal that you so covet.
And you’re pissed.
There’s something you should know, Imaginary Man: The women that you think are so hot are also wearing that level of makeup. Every time they’re in a photoshoot, on the red carpet, or in a movie, television show, or video, they’re wearing makeup, and a lot of it. They’re wearing exactly as much, and using exactly the same techniques, as ladies like Makeupd0ll. These very women that you’re using as a ruler against which to measure the comparative beauty of others don’t even look as you imagine them to.
There is nothing wrong with this.
As I said earlier, makeup is an art to many. Some women love trying on different looks to test the limits of this transformative art, and some of those women are breathtakingly skilled at it. Some women, like Kim K, Rihanna, and Kate Moss, wear it as a part of their jobs.
A woman’s choice to wear contour-level makeup usually has far less to do with attracting or fooling men than people like to think--especially when you consider that some women who wear makeup aren’t even attracted to men. A wild concept, I know, but still a true one.
If you find yourself on a date with a woman who you later discover wears a lot of makeup, consider asking her about her hobbies. She may bring up makeup art! Use it as a way to get to know her better as a person, rather than seeing it as a roadblock.
Has anyone ever passed judgement on you for wearing "that much" makeup? What did you say? How did you feel?